The Preparation and Development of Preceptors in Professional Graduate Athletic Training Programs

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Publication Title

Athletic Training Education Journal








Context: As professional athletic training programs transition to the graduate level, administrators will need to prepare preceptors to teach advanced learners. Currently, preceptor development is variable among programs and ideal content has yet to be identified. Exploring the development of preceptors teaching graduate learners can lead to an understanding of effective preceptorships.

Objective: To explore graduate professional athletic training program administrators' (ie, program directors', clinical education coordinators') experiences preparing and implementing preceptor development.

Design: Consensual qualitative research.

Setting: Individual phone interviews.

Patients or Other Participants: Eighteen program administrators (11 women, 7 men; 5.92 ± 4.19 years of experience; 17 clinical education coordinators, 1 program director). Participants were recruited and interviewed until data saturation was achieved.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Interviews were conducted using a semistructured interview guide, and were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed by a 4-person research team and coded into themes and categories based on a consensus process. Credibility was established by using multiple researchers, an external auditor, and member checks.

Results: Participants reported the delivery of preceptor development occurs formally (eg, in person, online) and informally (eg, phone calls, e-mail). The content typically included programmatic policies, expectations of preceptors, clinical teaching methods, and new clinical skills that had been added to the curriculum. Adaptations to content were made depending on several factors, including experience level of preceptors, years precepting with a specific program, and geographical location of the program. The process of determining content involved obtaining feedback from program stakeholders when planning future preceptor development.

Conclusions: Complex decision making occurs during planning of preceptor development. Preceptor development is modified based on programmatic needs, stakeholder feedback, and the evolution of professional education. Future research should explore the challenges associated with developing preceptors, and which aspects of preceptor development are effective at facilitating student learning and readiness for clinical practice.


© 2019 National Athletic Trainer's Association.

Link included with publisher's permission.


0000-0003-3171-9141 (Cavallario)

Original Publication Citation

Rager, J. L., Cavallario, J., Hankemeier, D. A., Bacon, C. E. W., & Walker, S. E. (2019). The preparation and development of preceptors in professional graduate athletic training programs. Athletic Training Education Journal, 14(3), 156-166.